It’s all change for Team AKKA-ASP, as the French squad heads into the 2016 Blancpain GT Series with new machinery and a renewed focus on securing titles in Europe’s leading GT3 championship. (En Français)
After a decade with Ferrari, the Jerome Policand-led team has purchased three new Mercedes-AMG GT3s for what’s shaping up to be a dual-season program alongside the new Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup.
Endurance-Info caught up with Policand to get his thoughts on the switch and what the coming season holds for the team.
Is the 2016 program finalized?
“We’ve confirmed our presence in the Blancpain GT Series, which includes the Sprint and Endurance [championships] and currently a full car in each series [confirmed].
“The GT Sports Club will also be part of the program with the Ferrari 458 GTE that will be piloted by Anthony Pons. We’re going to run in the championship as it seems to have a promising future and does not take us away from [our commitment] with Mercedes.
“For the number of cars in Blancpain GT, the choice is not yet made. We could see three [cars] in Sprint and Endurance knowing that we would only want to enter two at the 24 Hours of Spa.
“The other hypothesis is to have two cars in Sprint and Endurance, plus two in the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup. There’s demand for this new championship, even if we’d have to deal with two clashes, which would imply a large organization of the logistical plan.
“We can duplicate the staff but not the cars, That’s why we might settle for a partial program [in GT3 Le Mans Cup].”
Have drivers been confirmed?
“I’m already in discussions with our 2015 drivers to know their desires. All has not yet decided. We should learn more by the middle of the moth.
“I’m leaving the door open to have a Pro Cup crew for the 24 Hours of Spa and Sprint Cup. Endurance is a bit complicated because of the budget. It’s our wish to have a car in Pro Cup but only if it’s a good crew.”
Why did you Choose Mercedes?
“There are two factors. The first is the level of economic investment. The Ferrari 488 is a little above market prices and it requires a large investment.
“In 2011, we started with two Ferraris before having third a fourth [cars] in 2013. Everything is built nicely over time. We could not start with two Mercedes. We had to do a calculation.
“The second factor is that our partner has activities with Mercedes, although it was not an obligation for us. However, there was a consistency.”
There must be a lot of trust on the potential of the Mercedes-AMG GT3?
“Having a GT3 equipped with a naturally aspirated engine was also considered in the balance. For an average team like ours, a normally aspirated engine is easier to operate.
“The future will perhaps be turbo but for a team that is an additional parameter to be considered. The decision is not easy, especially since we have a very strong relationship with Michelotto and Kessel for the last ten years.
“We started to run a Ferrari 430 GT2 in 2006. The Ferrari period remains an important page of the team. It happens to teams who can benefit from their knowledge of the SLS. However, we have one in operation for a client. We liked [certain] things about the car.”
Will Balance of Performance once again play an important role?
“I’m not worried about this area since SRO has shown its ability to adjust the different cars. For two years, all the GT3s are good levels and none have been left behind.
“There is a good command of the BoP by Claude Surmont and his team. It is less a parameter to be taken into account that in the past. There were significantly more thoughts on this subject in 2011.”